‘Prince and Knight’ Challenge in Upshur County, WV

Banned and Challenged Books, Censorship

By: Kristin Pekoll, OIF Assistant Director

Prince and Knight

Prince & Knight, published by Little Bee Books in partnership with GLAAD, is a picture book that celebrates a prince in search of his perfect mate and finds it in a brave knight. The story is written by Daniel Haack and illustrated by Stevie Lewis. Booklist calls it “a colorful and entertaining tale for parents and children alike.” 

After a complaint from a local pastor claiming the book “is a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children, especially boys, into the LGBTQA lifestyle,” the book is undergoing review by the Upshur County Public Library Board.

American Library Association expresses concern

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, joined with the West Virginia Library Association and the National Coalition Against Censorship to express their concerns with the proposal to remove or restrict the book in a letter sent to the library board. In the letter, Caldwell-Stone urged board members to observe the First Amendment and to uphold the library material selection policies that support a diverse collection of books and that preserve each family’s right to choose for themselves the books that best serve their interests and information needs:

“In particular, the public library has a responsibility to represent a broad range of materials in its collection and to meet the needs of everyone in the community it serves – not just the most vocal, the most powerful, or even the majority. Individual library users have the right to voice their concerns about a library book and select different materials for themselves and their own families, but those objecting to particular books should not be given the power to restrict other users’ right to access those books. For this reason, we encourage you, as members of the Upshur County Public Library Board, to uphold the library’s strong policies in support of collection diversity and individual choice and keep Prince and Knight in the children’s collection.”

Deborah Caldwell-Stone

ALA’s letter to Board President Dennis Xander and the members of the Upshur County Library Board is below. Click here for a full screen view.

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GLAAD, in partnership with the book’s publisher, stated:

“The decision to remove Prince & Knight from the shelves of the Upshur County Public Library is an act of discrimination, plain and simple. Inclusive children’s books do not ‘indoctrinate’ but do allow LGBTQ families and their children the chance to see themselves reflected in the world.”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis

To voice your concern

The review will be conducted during the November 20, 2019 board meeting at 4 p.m. EST. According to Upshur Library Director Paul Norko, verbal public comments will not be allowed. If you would like to make a public comment, you can do so by emailing upshur.info@clark.lib.wv.us.

Kristin Pekoll

Kristin Pekoll is the Assistant Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and is the first contact for support to librarians and educators who are experience censorship. Kristin communicates with state library associations on current book challenges and publications that deal with censorship, privacy, ethics, and internet filtering. She organizes online education and training on the freedom to read and how to navigate reconsideration requests and media relations. Kristin started her career as a youth librarian in West Bend, Wisconsin where she experienced a book challenge to over eighty YA LGBTQ books. This summer she will be publishing her first book with ALA Editions titled Beyond Banned Books: Defending Intellectual Freedom throughout Your Library. In her free time she enjoys watching the Green Bay Packers and working on jigsaw puzzles. Find her on Twitter @kpekoll.

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